©Lin Yangchen


President John F. Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Although what I'm about to do, unlike going to the moon, has been done many times before, it still qualifies as hard (pun intended) by microscopy specimen preparation standards.

The dust from this rock can give you pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Collected by the author in 2005 from the upper slopes of Tambora volcano. Stone-age sectioning using a jewelry saw strung with a diamond-studded wire at a tension of about 1 kHz (second C# above 440 Hz concert A).

Sanding off the blade marks with French-made electro-coated 60-grit silicon carbide abrasive paper. The simple joy of being in touch with my planet.

Getting my daily suntan and vitamin D while frosting Ted Pella (California, USA) white glass petrographic slides.


The surface of a hand-frosted petrographic slide.

THK (Hong Kong) 100, 500 and 1200-grit diamond lapping discs for epicycular hand-grinding, drying on a Good Morning Towel.

Calibrating a Chinese-made Yong Qian hotplate to 75°C to dry washed rock samples and help the epoxy impregnate more readily.

At this point I suspended all in-house thin sectioning as the incessant sawing and grinding was putting excessive strain on my elbow joints.

Group photo of my first batch of rocks before their long journey to British Columbia via Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Bon voyage and see you again soon!

Geologist Angela Schwartz calls it beef sashimi. Served on a precision lapping machine custom-built by an aerospace engineer. Photo: Precision Petrographics

Home sweet home after an epic circumnavigation of the globe. The package missed its return flight from LAX and was diverted trans-Atlantic to Germany. The 30 μm unpolished thin sections are mounted on Norland Optical Adhesive 61 ultraviolet-cured liquid photopolymer. The adhesive meets the MIL-A-3920 specifications for use by the US military. Prepared by Precision Petrographics.


Flying home on a Boeing 777 nonstop from Leipzig/Halle to Singapore-Changi International.
Screenshot: Flightradar24

The refractive index dispersion curve of cured NOA 61 at 25°C for the purpose of dispersion staining microscopy. The formula is 1.5375 + 8290.45/λ2 - (2.11046 × 108)/λ4. The adhesive has a transmission of more than 95% across the entire visible spectrum. Graphics by the author using data from Norland Products, Inc.

Polishing with cerium oxide on Levis denim for reflected-light microscopy, after grinding away an existing coverslip.

See my Photographic Atlas of Thin Sections from Singapore and Southeast Asia.
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